WASHINGTON, D.C. – A total of 388 jobs were cut from D.C. schools on Friday, and officials said of those employees, 229 were teachers. School officials say they were forced to make the cuts because of a $43.9 million budget shortfall for the 2010 fiscal year.
Officials said 39 schools lost no teachers; 37 schools lost one teacher; 26 schools lost two teachers; eight schools lost three teachers; six schools lost four teachers; and 12 schools lost five or more teachers.
Notices were given to those who are impacted on Friday. The affected employees were placed on paid administrative leave with employment ending on November 2.
FOX 5 is told school principals were given the responsibility to choose which teachers to fire, and their decisions were supposed to be based on teacher performance. But at one school, the layoffs didn’t go over well with students.
This is videotape shot by a senior at McKinley Technology High School in Northeast Washington. It’s after school in the parking lot, and it shows an anxious confrontation between students and D.C. Police.
You see at least one student being arrested. Later we saw this woman, who says she’s a McKinley parent, also taken away by police.
“I was arrested because i was talking on behalf of the teacher and the parent.”
McKinley senior Tamika Debose says she was pepper sprayed in the face during the melee.
“When you’re in a big crowd like that, you can’t really move, so like when I looked up, it’s like, like right in my eyes, so I’m like I can’t see. I couldn’t see nothing,” said Tamika Debose.
Senior Kelvin Sherman shot this video and says all that students were doing was watching some of their favorite teachers being escorted from the building.
“These are people that we love,” Sherman said. “We’ve been with them for three years and they’re just escorting them out the building– laying them off.”
The teachers’ union president says the layoffs had been brewing for days.
“Students really get it. They’re not here protesting just to protest. They understand the impact this is going to have on the quality of education,” said George Parker of the Washington Teachers Union.
Schools chancellor Michelle Rhee is not saying how many teachers were let go from each school, but she admits under-enrolled high schools were hit hardest. She said she hopes there won’t be future layoffs, but you never know what the fiscal situation of the city will be.
D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty says the budget crunch has tied Chancellor Rhee’s hands.
“A lot of people in this city agree she’s got the system headed in the right direction,” said Fenty.
And yet Friday’s massive teacher firings and how students reacted at this one school reveal a level of anger and anxiety that could spell trouble in the weeks ahead.